“I thought of you,” my friend texted in the middle of the night. He sent along a link to a website filled with cosmic panoramas, evidence of a bigger scheme of things, and also the remarkable patience of a photographer who took years to meticulously assemble the images.

So many stars! So many planets! So much dust!


I live among rainbows. Crystals hang in most of my windows, so on sunny days I have company from sunrise to sunset. Light travels 93 million miles across space to splash color on my kitchen clock, on cabinets, walls, floors, doors, stairs…

on grids, floods, texas, power, equity, china, AI, finance, the future of war and what’s next

The near-collapse of the electric grid in Texas didn’t have to happen. But because it did, we now know that in the United States in 2021 a child can die of hypothermia because the power goes out. And that hundreds of people can be poisoned by carbon monoxide, huddling next to space heaters in frozen homes and in shivering in cars sealed off from the frigid fresh air.

We know that an apartment building can burn down because there’s not enough water pressure to fill a fire hose — because water that should have filled the fire hose instead gushed…

I am pro-vaccine. I support science and scientists and public health experts. But now that the Pfizer/BioNTech, two-dose Covid vaccine has been approved and the push is on to create, “an Operation Warp Speed for vaccine communication,” I find myself at odds with the prevailing narrative — or at least at odds with the ramped up marketing trying to convince the public that a vaccine can end the pandemic.

It can’t. And it won’t.

The science behind the two front-runner vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna — is undeniably elegant. In trials each has been shown to nearly eliminate the risk…

In the Age of Covid, nothing personifies the grassroots, can-do American spirit more than the DIY face mask. Almost overnight an army of “sewists” started uploading how-to videos on YouTube, then posting them on social media feeds, and comparing notes on patterns and materials.

This was much more than a feel-good story. This was about being able to do something at a time when there is precious little we can do. Washing hands, staying home, physical-distancing, yes, but none of that feeds our deep, human need to help others. Sewing face masks speaks to mission: These could save lives!


When the President referred to the man who was the first US fatality in COVID-19 outbreak as a “wonderful woman” during a nationally televised press conference, it may have been an honest mistake, a gaffe later attributed to lack of sleep. But framing the death in terms of “underlying conditions” was deliberate, shifting at least some of the blame to the victim, and deftly diverting attention away from the real problem.

“So healthy people, if you’re healthy you will probably go through a process and you’ll be fine,” according to the President. “There’s no reason to panic at all.”


Could COVID-19, the all-but-officially-designated pandemic now threatening to tip the world into global recession, help fix the American healthcare system? It may be a case of making lemonade from a giant lemon of a disaster, but also could be a campaign issue ready for its close up.

A global pandemic is a great leveler, infecting rich and poor alike. Indeed, given the shock to the stock market, COVID-19 could present a greater danger to the rich, at least initially, vaporizing vast wealth with news of each confirmed case — while GDP, capitalism’s scorecard — erodes as global supply chains freeze…

Read “The Primer,” a link-filled reference on environmental / climate issues and solutions

“Only a system can be sustainable.”
— Mark Miodownik, materials scientist and author of Stuff Matters

If all carbon emissions ceased tomorrow — if every country that originally signed onto the Paris Accord more than met is commitment — atmospheric carbon levels (CO2) would still continue to rise. Decarbonization is essential, but on its own will not be enough to slow climate change. …

Read “The Primer” for more about environmental & climate issues & solutions


Climate change is now a full blown “climate emergency,” with the focus stronger than ever on the seemingly unstoppable rise on atmospheric carbon levels. The rampant burning of fossil fuels over the last few centuries has awakened natural feedback loops. Vast stores of methane, a gas 30x as potent at CO2, now bubbles up from what had been for tens of millions of years a secure frozen prison in the arctic tundra.

Today, at only 1°C over pre-industrial global temperatures, weather patterns have become so distorted and extreme that floods are flood-ier, droughts drought-ier, and wildfires burn ever more…

“We thought these companies had privacy policies. These companies had surveillance policies… They know so much about us. We know so little about them. They know more about us than we know about us.”

— ​ Shoshana Zuboff, author, Surveillance Capitalism (Intercept interview)


On a bright, bitter cold late winter day in an otherwise quiet, upscale suburban mall, the all-things-Barbie pop up shop is a beacon of unrelenting cheer. Like the eternally green plastic grass in front, it promises something better than real: a wall-to-wall Barbie world of infinite pink possibility.

For the last several months The Cube…

If you grew up in Chicago, you know Bushman. Like the Cubs, the Lake, da Bears, tall buildings and knowing without a doubt that putting anything but mustard and relish on a Vienna Beef hotdog is simply wrong, Bushman (!), an orphaned Western Lowland Gorilla born in Camaroon, is part of the local lore. He came to the city in 1930, sold by a Presbyterian minister-cum-animal trader to Lincoln Park Zoo for $3500 (roughly $50,000 in today’s dollars). …



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